Gering’s Taylor Philbrick knew for over a year what her college plans were going to be. On Tuesday, Philbrick made it official by inking with the University of Nebraska at Kearney to play soccer.
It was a pretty easy decision for Philbrick, who finished with 19 goals in her junior season for the Bulldogs in helping them to a district final contest.
“I went down there the summer of going into my junior year for an ID camp and after that coaches said they wanted to keep in contact,” Philbrick said. “So, early in my junior year we set up an official visit. When we went down there, I got to practice with the team and stay with them and to see what it is like to be a UNK soccer player. I just fell in love with the team and the coaches, their practice and how they did things down there. I also have family who live down there so that really helped.”
Getting that decision out before her junior season was a blessing as she didn’t have any pressure at all.
“It was a lot easier. Last year going into my junior year, I had it figured out too and that was one of my best seasons,” she said. “So, not having that pressure to perform for coaches helped me focus on what I needed to do.”
What a junior season Philbrick had, too, where she scored 19 goals and helped the Bulldogs host a district playoff game against Bennington.
That is something she believes this team can do again.
“I hope we can have another home district game like last year against Bennington. I think we are very capable of doing that. We just have to do the same things we did last year. We are going to have a lot of younger people contributing to the team this year after losing Destiny and Maddie, so there will be a lot of new girls out there playing.”
Philbrick’s own goal is to break Brittney Spreier’s goal scoring record. But she also wants to keep improving.
“I am hoping to break Brittany’s record of goals,” she said. “I also want to just improve my game for UNK. And to work on better footwork and working on beating defenders.”
Gering coach Henri Prieels said Philbrick has all the tools to make an impact with her hard work on the pitch.
“I think we have seen Taylor grow over the last three years from a technicality standpoint,” Prieels said. “From a physicality standpoint, she is up to a level where she should be able to contribute. She can play different positions from attacking. She can go from a midfield to a forward.”
Philbrick will have plenty of support at UNK from other Gering students as well as her cousins. Gering’s Avery Mitchell, also a Gering soccer player, signed to golf at UNK next year. Also, her cousin Nathan Murray plays football for UNK and her cousin Austin Murray used to golf at UNK before they cut the golf program.
She also follows in the footsteps of other relatives that attended UNK including her great-grandma, great-aunt, grandparents and her dad. Her great-aunt Nancy Murray threw the shot put at UNK.
So, when Philbrick got that offer to attend UNK, it was clear what she was going to do.
“I had a couple of other schools talk to me about going there but I have always had in my mind since I was a little kid that I want to go to UNK,” she said. “When I got my offer to go there, I was just like, ‘Yeah.’”
Getting that chance to play soccer for another four years is the biggest thing for her, too.
“I am so excited,” she said. “Soccer is my one true love and just being able to play it for another four years is a blessing.”
She earned that chance to play soccer in college because of her hard work. She improved by watching and learning from the older players on the Bulldog team.
“It [learning from the older players] has been a really big plus. Since my freshman year they all have helped me improve,” she said. “They just brought me under their wing and basically told me what I needed to do. From just watching them, it has helped me a lot.”
This past fall, the UNK team finished with a 2-9-7 record. Philbrick said next year they should be stronger.
“This class they recruited seven and we are all forwards and last class they recruited 13 and they are basically defenders and midfielders,” she said. “So when I get there we should be pretty good. The girls they all recruited have all gone to state but me. I think we will be really good.”